Retro Reads - Romance discussion

Sandra Kitt
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Sandra Kitt answers your questions!

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message 1: by Open Road (new)

Open Road Media (openroadmedia) | 37 comments Mod
Hi all!

Here is your open discussion thread! Sandra will be checking in and answering your questions today through Friday. Feel free to chime in and share your thoughts and questions!

- Isabel


message 2: by Julie (new)

Julie  (gpangel) Good Morning Sandra! I'm so thrilled you will here to visit with us!
An author friend of mine said that romance novels used to have a shelf life somewhere between yogurt and ice cream. Now with the digital age they can last forever! Open Road has released some of your backlist in digital format. Established fans can enjoy your books on their kindles. But, there is a vast potential to reach a whole new audience of readers. What are your thoughts about the digital age of books?


message 3: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments I'm embracing the digital age, slowly at first (the learning curve was a bit long for me) but now with gusto. Digitization of books means that they can be available nearly forever! Which means lots of opportunities to connect to new readers. Also, the technology makes it quicker to get feedback from readers. I'm interested in what people are reading, and what readers want in stories in characters.


message 4: by Ionia (new)

Ionia (readfulthings) | 9 comments Sandra, do you find the breaking away from the traditional romance and creating characters with real world problems helps your readers identify with your books more?


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments I certainly hoped that there would be readers out there who would see beyond just the romance in my books and find the deeper context. I think that writing the kind of complex stories that I do and having some of them categorized as only romance may have limited my audience at first. But I think there's no question that a large, devoted, number of readers has found my voice and POV.
I should also add that my stories are always first written to answer my own questions about the world around me, and then I hope that there are others/readers who are as curious as I am.


NomdePlumePress | 25 comments Hi Sandra, first, thanks for writing books that reflect what 21st-century couples are actually like. Most people I know are in relationships comprising different racial or cultural backgrounds, but the same isn't true of the books I read. Was that what prompted you to write Close Encounters and your other books involving interracial romance?

Also, writing about racial issues can be a minefield. Acceptable terminology is changing all the time, or in some cases there really is no safe terminology. Does that make you nervous when you write about interracial relationships? (Just writing the question makes me nervous, and I'm an editor so I'm supposed to know how to do this!)

-Lila


message 7: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments Hi Lila:
Thanks for your thoughtful question. Unconscious I think I was starting to write about the make up of the nation as we were heading into the 21st century. I was aware that so many of the books I read...romance, women's fiction, etc...only reflected the narrowest segment of the population. And I knew that the national population was changing. I live in a city were I once identified 92 (!) different ethnic groups; that's huge. But I wasn't seeing that, or many African Americans, in general fiction at the time. I think when I explore the issue I'm really writing about our future as a nation. I wanted to read about what I see in my home town. And I believe that there is infinite possibilities for stories because of these changes.

It was only after writing The Color of Love, Close Encounters, Between Friends, etc. that I realized, this was a topic of interest to many readers!

In terms of the language and terminology, I don't angst about it too much, but I am careful to do enough research into words people use to describe themselves so that the voices in my stories are authentic. I don't think it's something to be nervous about. I think first recognizing change and differences is the first step to being sensitive about how we view other people.


message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie  (gpangel) How do you like to spend your spare time?


message 9: by Ionia (new)

Ionia (readfulthings) | 9 comments One thing I loved about this book in particular was the intelligence of the heroine. do you feel that there is a fine line between a strong heroine and an overbearing one?


message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments I, of course, came to see digital readers and ebooks as a good change for the industry and for readers. It has made it more convenient and less expensive to keep up with new titles. Epublishing has revolutionized how books become available to the public! For one thing, as you suggest, it has made it possible for so many more people to be published, because individuals can get their book(s) in the market place without the traditional structure of a publishing house. There are good and bad things about this new process, for the inexperienced writer, and for the expectations of readers.

I have an digital reader but I confess I still enjoy having a printed book in my hand. I still find great satisfaction in being able to flip through pages, reread the back cover blurb, etc.


message 11: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments I have to laugh when asked about how I spend my spare time! Spare time is such a luxury for me! Besides my writing, and promotion of my work, I also volunteer for a few organizations. I travel quite a bit (I have friends everywhere!), and I also do a fair amount of research as needed for my books.


message 12: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments The question as askedy by Ionia about writing the heroine in Close Encounters so that she's strong and confident and not overbearing...thanks for that observation! I like to think of her as being pretty grounded. If you recall the heroine has an unusual upbringing and background. Sometimes the uncertain and unexpected things that happen to a person early in life are the very things that might contribute to someone who 'looks' before jumping into a situation, or making a decision. I think that kind of thoughtfulness can also make a person fair, and honest.


message 13: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments I'd like to ask the group members if there were any surprises in my book that caught your attention? Any revelations? Anything you wanted to know more about?


message 14: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments It's Thursday morning. Before leaving to keep an appointment I wanted to share a little more about some of the other factors that contributed to the kind of 21st century contemporary stories that I write. When I wrote my first interracial novel it was not just to write an interracial novel. Yes, the romances were integral to the story because it was a clear way of showing my themes. Again, I was looking at a much bigger issue and question. I'd always viewed that first book as asking myself, how do people deal with differences when they to develop relationships with someone unlike themselves? Race is a very obvious difference. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS really pushed the envelope by asking is it possible, when race is a factor, for two peole to form a genuine relationship when one has been nearly killed by the other?

I also asked, how do people deal with change? That change can come in the form of one's thinking and attitudes, and understanding that change is inevitable in nearly every aspect of our lives. So, do we fight it, wanting to stay always the same? Or do we embrace the chance to see (and learn) things unfamiliar to us? I'm always going to vote for trying something new. In that regard I can be pretty fearless .

Even though CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, THE COLOR OF LOVE, and BETWEEN FRIENDS are interracial stories, if you read each you should quickly notice they are not the same story, nor are the characters the same people, simply moved between stories and given different names. I never imagined that this subject that would become a subgenre, but I now confess that the possibilities for other stories of this nature are almost infinite. I have a notebook filled with ideas.

Thanks to all for your interest.


message 15: by NomdePlumePress (new)

NomdePlumePress | 25 comments In response to your questions, I guess I wanted to know a bit more about Barbara. She seemed like such a complex character with a lot going on; a strong woman who made bad choices and couldn't quite find her way out of them. Mario surprised me: at first I thought he was just a common thug, but he was quite misogynistic as well as thoughtlessly violent. I love when secondary characters are more than just devices to serve the main characters' story, when they take on lives of their own.

As for revelations, I always need to be reminded that I can appreciate the beauty in the everyday. Especially in the doldrums of November. And I don't need to have a catastrophic experience to do so; I just need to read. (I'm still going to hate snow, though, no matter how beautiful it can be. No author can change that.)

-Lila


message 16: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments Lila, good observation about Barbara. She was a very smart, very competent PO, but she did make some poor decisions where she couldn't separate her personal life from the duties of being an officer. That made her very human! Readers have also pointed out how riveting Mario was as a character. I had to be careful that his strong personality didn't take over the story!

Yes, I think we all can use a reminder, now and then, that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder', cliche though it is. It really is up to each of us to decide we're going to look for what's beautiful everywhere...and it will be there! Keep your eyes open, and pay attention. I'm also not a big fan of cold weather or snow, but a rainy or snowy day is a perfect setup for me to stay indoors, drink copious amounts of tea, and read!


message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie  (gpangel) What is the best advice you have received as a writer?


message 18: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments Pay attention to, and believe in, your own voice. Write the story that you feel passionate about, and don't worry about writing to a trend. And, don't be afraid to take a risk and write about difficult subjects. Be honest, and don't take the easy way out. I guess this is more than one piece of advice but it all boils down to the same thing: it's your story....write it.


message 19: by Julie (new)

Julie  (gpangel) Sandra wrote: "Pay attention to, and believe in, your own voice. Write the story that you feel passionate about, and don't worry about writing to a trend. And, don't be afraid to take a risk and write about diff..."

Excellent advice!


message 20: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments A big thank you to all of you who took the time to read CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and joined the chat with me over the last three days. I hope you got as much out of it as I did!


message 21: by NomdePlumePress (new)

NomdePlumePress | 25 comments Thanks so much, Sandra. It was really great to learn about your writing process. I'm so glad we got to meet you, and I look forward to reading more of your books.

-Lila


message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie  (gpangel) Sandra wrote: "A big thank you to all of you who took the time to read CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and joined the chat with me over the last three days. I hope you got as much out of it as I did!"

Thank you Sandra for taking time out to visit with us here on Goodreads! Take Care!


message 23: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Kitt (sandra_kittauthorartist) | 17 comments Thanks Julie!


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